July 15, 2008

Palm Treo 680, a True Classic before the iPhone

Prior to the iPhone craze, Palm Treo was the smartphone that set the world off by storm. The original Handspring Treo 600 launched in 2004 made a big name for itself for having all the must-have features combined into one cool device that was very easy to use. Over the years, Palm has evolved and produced a few more handsets (ie. Treo 650, 700w, 700p, 680, 700wx, Centro, 800w etc). Many of which, is in my belief, the design inspiration for the iPhone you see today. Treo is known to be simple and intuitive; take a look at the dial pad touchscreen image below to see the close resemblance to an iPhone's UI.

For whatever reason, I've never gotten my hands on a Treo although I've always wanted to own one. Perhaps my reason for not owning one in the past was a pursuit for the perfect smartphone, one that features WiFi, GPS, 3G, high megapixel camera and etc... Having these criteria, I always looked elsewhere, hence I've owned, AT&T 8525, Nokia N95-3, BlackBerry 8830 and iPhone, etc.

Figuring I have some time while waiting for the iPhone 3G to become more available (without the crazy long lines) and having to commit more of my personal time and finance into this mobile blog, I've decided to pickup a GSM Treo 680 to play around for the time being. It would be part of my phone collection so it would no longer bear the pressure of being that 'perfect' phone. Since it will perform 90% of my day to day smartphone task, everything works out. If I am traveling to a foreign country and need GPS w/ pre-installed maps, I can easily switch back to the N95-3.

I picked the Treo 680 amongst others to add to my smartphone collection because of the following reasons:
1. It is one of the latest GSM Treo featuring most recent Palm OS Garnet 5.4.9 with its classic design (I don't like the Palm Centro look)
2. It is a smartphone with both Touchscreen and QWERTY and a tolerable EDGE data connection
3. According to this comparison guide on Treonauts, Treo 680 has the advantage in resolution (320x320), Weight (5.6oz), SDHC 8GB Support (only Treo680 goes up to 8GB) while holding its own in other hardware specs (CPU, Memory, Cam, Music, Streaming, etc.)

While Palm Treos' have had their shortcomings, especially Treo 680 (ie. no WiFi, no 3G, no GPS, VGA-only cam, 2.5mm stereo/headphone jack), I really can't complain paying $200 for a brand new unlocked unit off of eBay. For what its worth, this is a great and reliable smartphone that can be used to do everything an iPhone could plus more. For example, its EDGE connection is up to par with iPhone 1st gen but it has IM programs, Camcorder, MMS, Copy&Paste, and ability to view and edit Office Docs (PowerPoint slides viewed on Treo's 320x320 high res screen is amazing). Since it supports various popular mobile applications like Google Maps, GMail and OperaMini, I am anxious to give this classic smartphone a review. Considering my temporary solution to the N95-3's random shutdown is using EDGE(GSM-Only) mode, I wouldn't be in any more disadvantage.

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